Friday 16 February 2024

 Hello world. This is Paul Smith, one of the Doc's old friends.

It's my very sad duty to let his readers know that, having suddenly become more ill at the end of January, there will be no more updates of this blog by the great man.

He passed away, surrounded by his loving family, on Monday the 12th of February, leaving a huge hole in their lives and the lives of his many friends, wider family, geocaching mates, pals from S&S and a broad selection of other jobs/work/interests...

I'd the pleasure of knowing him, his wit, his unique perspective, and especially his kindness (except to telephone scammers!) for over 16 years - we used to geocache together, where I heard many colourful stories from his life, and enjoyed many a good-natured argument about issues of the day (we usually ended-up agreeing) - and am grateful our paths crossed again in recent months as he battled bravely (always very stoic!) with his health challenges.

I hope this blog will remain as a little online insight into a complex, charming, sweet man - indeed, a gentleman - and more people will discover the Wisdom of Solly through his past posts here. They'll give me comfort, I know.

I'll sign off this post with a salute to the man, and to his faithful band of acolytes here; he enjoyed writing for you.

Saturday 13 January 2024

Fiat service - latest information

Fiat service - latest information

Glyn Watkins have offered me a full refund; I'll send them the non-working key.

Fiat say that this resolves the issue.  "Not quite", I told them, "I've wasted a lot of time and effort to get precisely nowhere, and it appears to be a Fiat problem. I'd like compensation."

They offered me a £100 voucher, which I accepted; it'll go towards the new spare key which I'll get from Thames Motor ... I hope. 

When the voucher doesn't arrive , I'll spend more time chasing that.

Monday 8 January 2024

Dkim, Spf and Dmarc

Dkim, Spf and Dmarc

Beginning in February 2024, Gmail and Yahoo will begin implementing new requirements of large senders to combat spam and abuse through email.

1. You have to be sending from a domain that you won (so, not etc).

 2. You have to set up Dkim, Spf and Dmarc

Dkim is  Domainkeys Identified Mail. When you send an ekail, a Dkim record is included. This lets the receiving mailer check that it really did come from your server.

Spf is Sender Policy Framework.

When you send an email message, the receiving system will check to see if there is an SPF record published.

  • If there is a valid SPF record AND your sending IP is on the list, you PASS.
  • If the IP is NOT on the list, you FAIL the SPF check and could either be rejected or placed in the spam folder.

Spf isn't as good as Dkim

Dmarc is Domain-based Message Authentication, reporting and conformance.

It helps domains deal with domain spoofing and phishing attacks by preventing unauthorized use of the domain in the Friendly-From address of email messages.

So, how do you do that? I'm doing it for a linux mail server. I'm not a "large sender", but I'm doing it anyway. First, let's install some software.

yum install -y opendkim
yum install -y opendkim-tools

Then edit the configuration file:

pico  /etc/opendkim.conf

For what to do, see

The key lines to add/modify are:

Mode   sv
KeyTable       /etc/opendkim/KeyTable
SigningTable   refile:/etc/opendkim/SigningTable
ExternalIgnoreList     refile:/etc/opendkim/TrustedHosts
InternalHosts  refile:/etc/opendkim/TrustedHosts

Now create a subdirectory (put your domain name where I put

mkdir /etc/opendkim/keys/

opendkim-genkey -D /etc/opendkim/keys/ -d -s default

chown -R opendkim:opendkim /etc/opendkim

systemctl start opendkim; systemctl enable opendkim

And edit (in /etc/mail) to add

INPUT_MAIL_FILTER(`opendkim', `S=inet:8891@localhost')


systemctl restart sendmail

cd /etc/opendkim/keys/
You'll see a file  default.txt. Gaze on that. Then go to /var/named/db.example


default._domainkey  IN  TXT ( "v=DKIM1; k=rsa; " "p=MIGfMA0.................IDAQAB" )

Restart the DNS server by doing: systemctl restart named

And the dkim can be tested using

domain = selector = default

Next, spf. You need to tell it the range of IP addresses. Add to /var/named/db.example

If you have mailers that don't do rDNS (reverse DNS) then use IN TXT "v=spf1 ip4: ~all"

Finally, Dmarc IN TXT "v=DMARC1; p=none; adkim=r; aspf=r; rua=mailto:email-address-for-reports"

P=none means take no action, just report it to the email address email-address-for-reports

Other options are: quarantine and reject.

So now we have three lines added to example.db

default._domainkey  IN  TXT ( "v=DKIM1; k=rsa; " "p=MIGfMA0.................IDAQAB" ) IN TXT "v=spf1 ip4: ~all" IN TXT "v=DMARC1; p=none; adkim=r; aspf=r; rua=mailto:email-address-for-reports"

Restart the DNS server by doing: systemctl restart named

Test using




Fiat service - more lack of

Fiat service - more lack of

Following the advice of Barry at Glyn Hopkin, on January 5th I took my non-working spare key to another dealer, because as of December 31, Glyn H is no longer a Fiat dealer.

So I went to Thames Motor. Looking at their forecourt, they're a very big Fiat dealer! They took my keys, and after about an hour, they said they couldn't program the key. They said that either the key wasn't working, or it was the wrong sort of key.

So I called Fiat, and told them where we were, and I called Glyn Hopkin and gave them the same information.

Fiat said they'd look into this. Barry wasn't at Glyn, but his helper asked me to put the whole story in writing and send that, which I have.

So now it's been over two months, and all I have is a piece of plastic that, apparently, can't be made into a key.

I don't see how Glyn can help me further, because they are no longer a Fiat dealer. I don't see how Thames can help, they already tried to program the key I got from Glyn.

Let's see what Fiat says, they said they'd reply by 9 January.

A spare key is a small matter; I wonder how these people would deal with something more important? As of now, if a friend asked me whether they should buy a Fiat, I would advise not.

Thursday 14 December 2023

Fiat service - lack of

Fiat service - lack of

We bought the car, a Fiat 500E, and we do like it. But.

The dealer we bought it from, will cease to be a Fiat dealer at the end of December 2023, and if we'd known that, we might have bought from someone else. The dealer in question is Glyn Hopkins, St Albans.

Glyn Hopkins say that after Fiat was bought by Stellantis, they've been difficult to deal with, and that this is why they've dropped them. Fiat say they dropped Glyn Hopkins four months ago, but wouldn't say why. I believe Glyn Hopkins.

But this affects me.

I wanted to get a spare key, and I paid Hopkins £495 for this. I'd hoped to take delivery of it along with the new car, but that didn't happen. A couple of weeks later, the extra key turned up at Hopkins, and we made an appointment for me to go there, with the car and the existing keys, so it could all be reprogrammed.

I sat at Hopkins for a few hours, and eventually they told me that they'd been unable to reprogram the keys, and blamed Fiat for not giving them the codes. They suggested that I come back next week and they'd try again.

I told them, "no." First of all, I said, I've already made this journey once, why do I need to do it again - they could send someone to pick up the car and keys. And secondly, I said, how do they know whether it would work second time around, and I didn't fancy spending another half day in futile waiting for something that doesn't happen. Eventually, they agreed to send my original sales guy to pick it up, and we agreed a date.

On that date, sales guy was in hospital, so we agreed another date.

On the latest date, he turned up and I gave him the car keys, and he drove off.

That evening, he came back. They still couldn't reprogram the spare key, which was about what I'd expected. And, he'd just on that day, learned that Hopkins was dropping Fiat.

I phoned Fiat customer service on 020 3450 8702. They had a new story for me. They weren't doing any spare key programming, and that this would be the case for some weeks. Why?  Because they're too busy, she said, and suggested that I contact a dealer in about a month.

So the situation now is - I paid £495 for a spare key, and I won't see it until (at least) some time next month. Hopkins will refund me for the payment that I'll make to the dealer (probably Thames Motor) for doing the job. Thames Motor said I should come January 5th, but I wonder if they'll be able to do it at that date? I should phone Fiat customer service to find out, rather than trek down to Slough to find out that they can't do it.


Fiat 500E. Nice car, pity about the car maker, the owner of the car maker and the dealers. And the customer service. And the customer experience.

Wednesday 6 December 2023

I don't believe it!

 I don't believe it!

Today, I was expecting a callat 12:10 or so to tell me the results of the scan I had two days ago. The call came at 14:10, but that wasn't the problem, the consultant was running late.

No. The problem was that I had a call at 9:30 (which I missed, and you can't call them back). The call was to ask me at which hospital I had the scan, because without that knowledge, they could not get the scan results.

But, if course, the NHS knew where I had the scan, because I'd been told to go there to have the scan. The problem is that the NHS administration system was written by goldfish and run by monkeys. It wasn't possible for the NHS at Oxford Churchill, to know that I had my scan at Amersham. Why Amersham? Because Amersham is five minutes from where I live and Oxford is about an hour. And it really should be easy to electronically move the scan results from here to there.

So what should I do in future?

Well, I get a letter from Oxford telling me to get scanned at Amersham giving me the appointment date and time, from the Oxford secretaries. And then, I was advised, I should phone up the same Oxford secretaries to tell them that it's to be Amersham ... information  that is in the letter that they just sent me.

You couldn't make it up.

Look, a squirrel!

Look, a squirrel!

Non-EU immigration to the UK at the end of last year, was 925,000 people.

Asylum claimants were 76,000.

Immigrants arriving in small boats - 46,000.

So, let's look at the Rwanda policy. I'm not going to look at the legality, but whether the policy can work.

People crossing the channel in a small boat, are taking a big risk, but despite that, despite the fact that they're going from one safe country (France) to another,  they're still willing to take that risk.

And they know what they're getting into. In today's world, the internet and smart phones, means that everyone has access to information. They're still willing to take that risk.

The numbers tell us that we're taking aim at 5% of immigrants. A HUGE fuss is being made about the Rwanda policy, as if it's going to have a significant effect in immigration. But it won't - partly because it's only aimed at 5% of immigrants, and partly because despite the much-trumpeted deterrent effect, desperate people are risking death to get to the UK, and the possibility of being sent somewhere else, is nothing compared to the possibility of death.

So why is our government doing this? It's because "something must be done" and this is something. It's a distraction from what many people see as the main problem, which is that there are too many immigrants from non-EU coming here.

If you want to tackle the number of non-EU immigrants, you need to take aim at the 879,000, not the 46,000.

This policy is "Look, a squirrel!"